Facilities and Departmental Instrumentation

Bair Family Center for the Sciences

The Bair Family Center for the Sciences is named for the family of the Montana pioneer and rancher Charles M. Bair. Completed in 1981, Rocky Mountain College's Bair Science Center houses the chemistry, biology, physics, geology, and mathematics disciplines and also contains classrooms, teaching and research laboratories, seminar rooms, and faculty offices.

The construction of this facility was made possible through a major gift from Ms. Alberta M. Bair, the daughter of Charles Bair, together with additional gifts from other donors to the RMC Second Century Fund.


Students in the chemistry classes at Rocky Mountain College receive hands-on training on many of the analytical instruments that are commonly found in chemical and biochemical research laboratories. This training begins in the freshman-level general chemistry laboratory and continues throughout the entire laboratory teaching program.

The types of instrumentation routinely used by undergraduate students in our teaching labs include:

Bruker 300 MHz NMR Spectrometer

Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) is primarily used by chemists to determine or verify a compound's molecular structure. This instrument is also used to monitor the progress of chemical reactions, analyze the purity of samples, conformational analysis, kinetic studies, and more.

This state-of-the-art instrument is not reserved for students enrolled in upper-level courses or involved in undergraduate research projects. At Rocky Mountain College, unlike at many institutions, student use of the NMR begins in the general chemistry classes and continues throughout the entire program.

Shimadzu GC-17A Gas Chromatograph

Gas chromatography (GC) is primarily used to separate a liquid mixture of easily vaporized components. GC separation techniques find widespread use in all fields of science where mixtures of liquids or gases must be separated into the individual components. Students in the organic chemistry, quantitative analysis, instrumental analysis, and physical chemistry laboratories use the GC for analysis.

Beckman DU-70 UV-Vis Spectrophotometer/Schmadzu Multispec 1501 Photodiode Array UV-Vis Spectrophotometer

UV-Vis spectroscopy is used to identify and quantify a wide range of compounds and materials that absorb light at either visible or ultraviolet wavelengths. Common applications are the study of rates of chemical reactions, the study of metal ions and their complexes, and the study of biologically active compounds. The UV-Vis spectrophotometers are used by students in all of the chemistry laboratories.

Perkin-Elmer Spectrum BX FT-IR Spectrometer

Infrared spectroscopy is primarily used to identity the functional groups present in organic compounds, and it is also widely used in the chemistry industry for process control. Students in all of our chemistry laboratories make use of this instrument.

SpectrAA 220 Atomic Absorption Spectrometer

This extremely sensitive analytical instrument is used to detect and quantify single elements in samples. One practical application of atomic absorption spectrometry (AA) is in the determination of heavy metal concentrations in water supplies. The AA is mainly used by students in the quantitative analysis, instrumental analysis, and physical chemistry laboratories.

Additional instrumentation used in our laboratory program includes:

Eppendorf Mastercycler Gradient PCR System, BioRad Biologic LP Low-Pressure Chromatography System, Beckman Centrifuge, Amicon Ultrafiltration System, Bioanalytical Systems, Bausch & Lomb ABBE-3L Refractometer, several electrophoresis systems, and various electrochemistry equipment.